Interfaith Fantasy and Science
C. S. Lewis
Known equally well for his works of popular theology and his works of
science fiction and fantasy, Anglican writer C.
S. Lewis draws upon traditional Pagan and Christian imagery, as well
as inventing new Christian imagery. Born in Ireland and later a resident
of England, Lewis became noted for his scholarship in English literature.
Some people seem to think [when I wrote The Chronicles of Narnia]
that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity
to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected
information about child-psychology and decided what age-group I'd write
for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories'
to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way
at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen
on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't even anything Christian
about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord. It was part
of the bubbling.
Then came the Form. As these images sorted themselves into events (i.e.,
became a story) they seemed to demand no love interest and no close psychology.
But the Form which excludes these things is the fairy tale. And the moment
I thought of that I fell in love with the Form itself: its brevity, its
severe restraints on description, its flexible traditionalist, its inflexible
hostility to all analysis, digression, reflections and 'gas'. I was now
enamoured of it. Its very limitations of vocabulary became an attraction;
as the hardness of the stone pleases the sculptor or the difficulty of
the sonnet delights the sonneteer. On that side (as Author) I wrote fairy
tales because the Fairy Tale seemed the ideal Form for the stuff I had
Then of course the Man in me began to have his turn. I thought I saw
how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had
paralysed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so
hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings
of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to.
An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm.
The whole subject was associated with lowered voices; almost as it if were
something medical. But supposing that by casting all these things into
an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school
associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real
potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought
["Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What's to Be Said," On Stories
and Other Essays on Literature.]
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